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Labour Market

Profile of the labour market in the eight major Canadian CMAs

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Increased employment depends on the growth of the labour force in Québec City

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The services sector has added nearly 7,000 new jobs in Québec City over the past three years

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The Québec City CMA counted 438,500 jobs in 2016, 3,800 fewer than in 2015. This dip comes after two exceptional years that added a total of 14,000 jobs. Nevertheless, there is still a need for labour in the area, because the unemployment rate fell by one tenth of a point, to 4.6% in 2015. The Québec City CMA therefore has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Québec City’s job market has made major strides forward in the past few years, adding more than 440,000 jobs. In 2016, the pendulum was expected to start swinging the other way, counteracting some of these gains; after all, the area had experienced this trend before. However, things took a different turn this time. Businesses did not, in fact, slow down, as shown by the low unemployment rate. They actually increased employment opportunities in order to continue their establishment in the area, ensure their growth and replace employees, particularly those who were retiring. Instead, the decrease in employment was caused by a smaller available workforce. Some 4,700 people exited the labour force, representing a decrease of 1%. This is the largest decrease in more than 15 years.

Workers between the ages of 25 and 54 remain in very high demand in Québec City. In 2016, people in this age group occupied 3,900 new positions, 3,100 of which were full-time. As a result, Québec City cemented its position as a Canadian leader in employment, with a 3.9% unemployment rate and 88.6% employment rate. Attracting and retaining talent in the 25–54 age bracket is crucial at a time where the region’s economy is expected to continue expanding, which will increase and diversify employment opportunities. This may also provide somewhat more stability for workers in the 15–24 age bracket. This bracket gained 9,100 jobs two years ago, but lost 6,800 jobs last year. Nevertheless, the decrease in the labour force (-10%) allowed the unemployment rate to stay below 7.1% in 2016 (it was 7.2% in 2015). As for workers aged 55 and older, the CMA generated 1,500 full-time positions in 2016, countering the loss of 2,400 part-time positions. Also in this age bracket, the reduction in the size of the labour force influenced unemployment rates, which reached 4.9%. The low employment rate in 55–64 year olds (31.3% in 2016) suggests that people in this age bracket could potentially have a stronger presence on the job market.

The services sector continued to grow in 2016, adding 2,600 positions. Hiring increased in the commercial, recreation and tourism and public administration sectors. Due to its knowledgeoriented economic structure, the services sector is expected to remain an important employer. New employment opportunities will open in financial and insurance services, professional, scientific and technical services and administrative services. Additionally, employees in the healthcare and education fields remain in high demand due to demographic changes.

In 2016, the decline in employment struck the construction and manufacturing industries (-3,600 and -2,800 jobs, respectively). The former faced a decrease in the number of construction starts and a lull in the non-residential construction projects. While the residential sector is expected to continue this trend, the upcoming launch of several major non-residential projects will bring back the need for workers, once again passing the 25,000-job mark. As for the manufacturing industry, a gap was expected after three consecutive years of growth. However, the integration of innovative processes, the expansion of companies and the development of various markets will continue to fuel the constant need for workers. As a result, the area will be able to maintain a pool of more than 30,000 manufacturing workers over the next several years.

The regional economy currently favours job creation. This sets the tone for the next five years. A net increase of approximately 20,000 jobs can be expected by 2021. This forecast is dependent on the direction that the labour force is taking; the 2016 economic report serves as a reminder. The strong correlation between employment and the labour force will enable the area’s unemployment rate to remain below 5%.

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